Sheffield Steelers potential goal heroes examined

Who will be the most explosive forward on the Sheffield Steelers' roster of 2019-20?

By Bob Westerdale
Friday, 09 August, 2019, 16:51
Former Belfast Giants' man Brendan Connolly shoots at Sheffield Steelers two seasons ago

Aaron Fox's new line-up has been formed to provide goals and wins, both of which were in short supply last season.

Only three of the 11 Elite League teams scored fewer goals than Sheffield last term.

Eventual champions Belfast Giants scored 55 more times that seventh-placed Steelers.

But Arena fans are hoping some of the new faces and returning names on the forward lines will change all that.

They are looking forward to seeing who rises to the top, in a line up including:

Brendan CONNOLLY, who was top goal scorer for Glasgow Clan last season, and second in terms of overall points.

His haul after 58 games was 31 goals and 34 assists for 65 points.

In the season before, for Belfast Giants, Connolly was top overall points-taker after 53 games with 27 goals with 46 assists for a phenomenal 73 points.

And he was top of the tree for Rungsted Seier Capital in 2016-17 in Denmark, where he was a team-mate with another future Steeler Eric Meland.

Connolly had left north America in the same team-leading position at Alaska Aces.

He is going to take some stopping.

Another new boy is Marc-Olivier VALLERAND, he was top scorer in League play for EHC Lustenau points in central Europe's Alps Hockey League.

Previously he had been a linemate of Connolly's at Greenville Road Warriors.

In 35 games, he scored 32 and 30 for 62, last season.

The year before, playing for Coventry Blaze, he was top scorer in 48 games: 34+31=65.

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There is a lot of excitement over Martin ST. PIERRE too.

He played less than half a season at Kunlun Red Star in the KHL, but his contribution was a valuable one, he played 27 games scoring 4+8=12.

In his last season in north American hockey,(AHL) he played 71 games for Hamilton Bulldogs and was top-scorer with 10 goals and 38 assists.

Then there is Nikolai LEMTYUGOV, the club's first Russian import.

While he has not had a settled time over the last couple of seasons, he was top scorer in season 2016-17 with Avangard Omsk, in the KHL, 52 games delivering 48 points.

A good first Sheffield campaign for Michael DAVIES could see him with comparable figures to his time at Augsburger Panthers in 2016-17, where he was the team's best provider.

And don't forget the sniper skills of homegrown Robert DOWD - he was top goalscorer for Steelers last season, despite missing 16 games through injury.

Or John ARMSTRONG, who averaged a point a game in 2016-17 and 2017-18 with Steelers.

An outside punt on top goalscorer would throw Anthony DELUCA in the mix.

After ten games, when he'd become fitter and used to the EIHL, he had an electrifying burst of scoring form.

The best example of his execution potential came against Cardiff Devils, when he scored four and an assist in a 5-4 win in March.

Hopefully, these players will all strike gold.

And Fox will have offensive-minded defencemen in Ben O'Connor and Aaron Brocklehurst chomping at the bit to help out.

Meanwhile, Steelers have signed an 18-year-old back-up goalie to step in if either of their regular import goalies are withdrawn from action, for any reason.

Bedford-born Will Kerlin played for GB U18s and 20s last year.

For the four past seasons, Kerlin has been away in Ontario playing Midget AA and Academy hockey. He'd started his junior career in Milton Keynes and Guildford.